The previous paper-based program relied on thousands of pages of paper and hundreds of binders. Getting FTOs to fix mistakes took countless hours. Storing and accessing the data was difficult and time-consuming.
Implemented field training software to simplify and store field training documentation.
- Access all field training information easily from one centralized location
- Digitize paperwork and decrease physical storage requirements
- Reduce errors and eliminate lost or missing paperwork
In the growing city of Fishers, Indiana, the 100 sworn officers of the Fishers Police Department take their duties to protect the community seriously. To do this, the department ensures all officers are properly trained, which is an important part of providing effective public safety services. But with that training comes a necessary stipulation for which the department needed a simplified solution: documentation.
Perpetuating problems with paperwork
Fishers PD trains new officers on what is commonly known as the “San Jose Model” field training program, a model conceived by California’s San Jose Police Department in the 1970s that is now widely used across the globe.
One of the hallmarks of this training program is its thorough documentation system. Right or wrong, trainees know exactly how they’re doing every step of the way. Everything from personal appearance to knowledge of the law and driving skill is documented by the Field Training Officer (FTO) in Daily Observation Reports (DORs), and the sergeant who oversees the FTOs and trainees also produces a bi-weekly performance report. But the documentation doesn’t end there – at the conclusion of the training program, each FTO writes an end-of-phase report before the new officers can begin their official duty.
This comprehensive documentation system produces a huge volume of paperwork. And at Fishers PD, Sergeant Scott Wilcox oversees the field training program and is responsible for maintaining all of these documents.
"It was very labor-intensive. Hard copies had to be made of everything. There were two binders for the daily reports, and a third one for checklist tasks and other documents the trainee handled. It was close to 1,000 sheets of paper."
Fishers Police Dept
For every new officer, that added up to three thick binders and a lot of paper and printing costs – and Fishers PD typically adds five to 10 new officers each year.
Unfortunately for Sergeant Wilcox, working with paper forms also meant chasing them down. Police officers work around the clock, and paperwork doesn’t always flow smoothly to its intended destination. Forms get lost. People forget to sign them or aren’t given a copy. If there’s an error or omission, the form has to be routed back to the author with the same potential for loss or delay. Multiplied by almost 1,000 sheets of paper for each trainee, times the number of trainees, the complexity of the problem can easily spiral out of control.
Solving inefficiencies with software
When Fishers PD discovered PowerFTO, formerly Agency360, Sergeant Wilcox knew the training software would make their field training work considerably easier.
“We still document performance, but it wasn’t the long narratives they were used to. The FTOs complete the DORs in 15 or 20 minutes at the end of their shift, rather than having to write almost constantly their entire shift.”
Fishers Police Dept
Since PowerFTO is a web-based solution, FTOs can access it from the computers in their patrol cars or any other internet-connected device. The cloud-based system also provides extra security, so if a computer crashes, the data isn’t lost. “We can burn a report when we’re finished [with a training cycle] and that report pulls in every single report we’ve done on that trainee,” Sergeant Wilcox said. “All that information is stored here in digital form, as well as on the software company’s servers.”
It saves Sergeant Wilcox a lot of time, too. With just a quick glance, the department can see if all of their training requirements are complete. Plus, PowerFTO includes a feature that flags DORs that are missing ratings, comments, or other required elements. The software also automatically calculates the number of minutes the FTOs commit to additional training time, average scores in each category, and other statistics that would be time-consuming to assemble by hand.
And that’s not all – PowerFTO even tracks FTO scoring methods, making it easy to spot inconsistencies between grades while remaining objective. “Just about any information you want to find, you’re going to be able to get it,” said Sergeant Wilcox.
The trainees also benefit from the software because they get online access to their individual training reports. PowerFTO creates an audit trail for every change in a report and locks down reports for changes once they’re electronically signed.
Savings and benefits, multiplied
Time and resources aren’t the only savings for Fishers PD. The efficiencies PowerFTO creates in the department’s training and documentation processes also helps lower costs. “There’s definitely a cost savings associated with the program,” said Sergeant Wilcox, “because the man-hours are a lot less, we don’t have to have our secretaries put together the training binders, and everything is accessible from a central location. I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re saving money by using it.”
Ultimately, Fishers PD is dedicated to serving and protecting the community to the best of their ability, and proper training plays an important role in ensuring public safety. It’s an expensive proposition to recruit and qualify a new candidate and put them through the academy, only for them to fail to complete the program. PowerFTO helps Fishers PD support trainees throughout the field training program by identifying areas where they may need additional help. “This software makes it very easy to see where our problems are,” Sergeant Wilcox said. “We can catch problems a lot quicker.”
“This software makes it very easy to see where our problems are. We can catch problems a lot quicker.”
Fishers Police Dept
This benefit not only improves retention and lowers recruiting and training costs – it also enables new recruits to achieve their goal of becoming professional law enforcement officers. PowerFTO is proud to help the Fishers Police Department implement a more efficient field training program and better protect their community.
Schedule a free demo to discover how PowerFTO can transform your agency’s field training operations, communications, and documentation processes today.